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Opinion: Mobile TV to reach 500B subscribers by 2013

February 11, 2009

A dramatic return on the cards?

An article published today on Mobile Marketer highlights some very interesting research conducted by ABI Research. Their research predicts that there will be half a billion mobile television viewers and subscribers by 2013. With the death of analogue approaching in 2012 for the UK and for many other countries, the research goes as far as to say that this will create a gap in the market for mobile TV.

I for one am speculative as to whether this is true. Mobile TV had a momentary rise (if you can call it a rise!) and fall, with Virgin TV offering its Movio service a few years back, but after a low uptake from consumers, withdrew the service. The timing wasn’t ideal for Virgin in fairness, however insinuating that the analogue switch-off will catalyse increase in the number of people using mobile TV is, in my opinion, hit and miss.

There are several more significant factors that will impact upon consumers opting to use the service.

– Preference – Consumers will not want just any old crap. Mobile TV will be used for long commutes and when users aren’t by their own TV sets, and therefore will want content tailored to them specifically. This will rely heavily on users being able to select specific channels, even shows, to watch.

– Acceptance – As highlighted in the MM article, ‘the acceptance of mobile TV relies heavily on time and on cultural shift. Consumers have to be willing to receive and interact with mobile content on their phones.’

– Network – It was only the other week when I was returning from London to Bournemouth, and I realised I was missing the big Gloucester v London Irish game. I decided to try and use Vodafone Lives TV service in which I was supposedly able to watch a variety of the Sky Sports Channels. However, the connection kept failing due to the network speeds, and the quality of what did make it through was just unwatchable. Increased network speeds are going to be imperative to the future of mobile TV, simply because if it is not of a decent quality or service, consumers simply will not part with their hard earned cash. And in turn, advertisers will be disinterested in parting with chunks of their marketing budget in a poor platform.

I hope I am proven wrong, simply because Mobile TV does have a place in this digital future of ours. We just need to make sure we do it right this time…and not see it go the way of Movio once again.

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